Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says plans to introduce Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Jamaica by 2015 remain on track, even as the government has decided to remove itself from the fuel selection process.
"I am happy to reiterate that LNG will, indeed, be introduced into Jamaica by 2015 and that plans are well underway for this," the Minister said on Tuesday, in a statement in the House of Representatives to dispel media reports that government would be abandoning the project.
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He noted, however, that it was determined that the government had taken the LNG matter "as far as it can go", and has decided to modify its role in the project.
He said the state will remove itself from the process of fuel source selection and instead focus on creating the legislative and regulatory framework, "which we aim to establish and promulgate during this financial year".
The move, Minister Paulwell said, will enable the government to better meet the needs and interests of all in line with the National Energy Policy, which calls for: "an energy sector that is driven by private sector investment within a policy and regulatory framework that fosters investment, competition, efficiency, a level playing field and transparency."
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"As a government, we continue to support and facilitate private investors as we work together to achieve the best possible solutions. It is the considered view of the government that the electricity and alumina producers would have much more flexibility in the procurement of fuel supplies and could use their international leverage to get the best possible prices," he stated.
Minister Paulwell informed that the LNG Steering Committee will be disbanded with immediate effect, and be replaced with a body that includes members of the Jamaica Energy Council, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), and his Ministry.
The Minister informed that following meetings in Korea, Japan, and Jamaica, he has "firm assurance from the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) that they will be able to undertake this LNG project within the timeline established, and will achieve a 30 per cent reduction in the price of electricity to the consumer".
"In the spirit of transparency, I will say that the supply of LNG, under a long-term contract, may not commence by 2015. But JPS will be able to purchase LNG on spot price deals during that interim phase. I commit that as JPS provides details on its infrastructure and LNG supply arrangements, I will update the House," he said.